This article considers the conceptualization and operationalization of “social environment” and “social context” with implications for research and practice with children and youth with impairments.
In this study, the authors discuss:
- The social environment and social context as constructs important for understanding interaction between external environmental qualities and the individual’s experience.
- Existing conceptualizations within psychological and sociological bodies of literature, research using these concepts, current developmental theories and issues in the understanding of environment and participation within rehabilitation science.
- A model that integrates a person-focused perspective with an environment-focused perspective and that outlines the mechanisms through which children/youth and social environment interact and transact.
- The implications of the proposed model for research and clinical practice.
Understanding how social environment and personal factors interact over time to affect the development of children/youth can influence the design of services for children and youth with impairments.
The authors suggest that rehabilitation that addresses the ongoing reciprocal interaction between children/youth and their social environments could contribute to creating healthier environments in which all children, including children with impairments, have experiences that lead to positive developmental benefits.